In this
statement “knowledge” is data that we have gained through experience,
perceptions of reality or it can be principles, ideas acquired by humans. The
word knowledge can also be reviewed as the understanding and awareness of
particular aspects of reality. As time has progressed it has been explicitly
stated that the accuracy and simplicity of knowledge have improved immensely as
human mind has become more powerful and effective; improving the intellectual
thinking in the society. In this statement, “accuracy” of knowledge is the
measure of correctness and precision of knowledge. Usually, people believe and
agree knowledge that they currently possess without any uncertainty and
hesitation. However, these claims and facts that we believe in may have been falsified,
re-evaluated and redefined by the discovery of latest evidence or by the
experience we have progressively gained in life.

 

Subsequently
the question arises, to what extent does the knowledge we acquire in the
present time reliable and accurate? In another word, will the present expertise
that we consider it to be accurate be discarded in the near future?

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Considering
the above question, knowledge in natural science is considered to be lengthy,
grueling system of trial and error in which false claims and discoveries constantly
arise and are discarded on further examination. These unsuccessful attempts and
the ability to rectify the facts leads to the accuracy and validity of the
knowledge. The field of chemistry is one such area where falsification and
accuracy of knowledge are distinctly visible. For instance, an example of this
can be the study of element and atomic structure. In 300 BCE, the Greek
philosopher Aristotle declared that all matter was made of only four elements:
fire, air, water, and earth. This statement was independently claimed and arrived
upon by many ancient people including Indian, Mayan, and Chinese. In 450 BCE
philosopher, Democritus began search for a description of matter and believed that
the smallest piece of matter is “atoms” that are indivisible and indestructible.
This was continued by nearly 2,000 years of small progress towards greater
accuracy which lead to a greater understanding of the nature of elements and
atoms. Finally, in the 20th century, it was concluded by professor
Schrodinger Heisenberg that electrons move at high speeds in an electron cloud
around the nucleus. This example shows that human reject some of the knowledge
in natural science with the progression of increased perspectives.  Moreover, sense perception and evidence are
the two major roles that are changing people’s perspective in natural science.

 

Furthermore,
through this example, it leads to an epistemological fact that suggests, the
accuracy and reliability of our knowledge of the natural scientific world has
been progressively built upon the understanding and ideas held by our
predecessors. Infact, the knowledge in natural science that we possess today
has been re-evaluated numerous times throughout the history of Natural science
and some of them are discarded from existence by the scientist.

 

However,
this also leads to my counterclaim, that knowledge which is considered accurate
in today’s time will also be accepted in the near future. In Physics one of the
most obvious example is Newton’s theory of gravity, which was assumed as truth
for centuries because it was considered that objects do not fly away from earth
due to gravity. This theory seemed to match the data gathered by research and
experimentation but was always subject for testing. Moreover,
Einstein’s theory makes falsifiable predictions that are dissimilar from the facts
and predictions claimed by Newton’s theory. This example which is related to
the precession of the orbit of Mercury and gravitational lensing of light. In
reality, Einstein’s and Newton’s theories hold the same predictions, hence they
are both right. But Einstein’s theory holds true in a superset of the
conditions in which Newton’s theory holds, so according to the principle
of Occam’s Razor, Einstein’s
theory is preferred. However, Newton’s theory is also considered correct in
studies.

 

Thereby it
can be concluded that accuracy of knowledge constantly shifts towards accuracy
by rectifying and redeveloping of existing theories.

 

On the
other hand, this also leads to my second question that is what leads to the reliability
of knowledge and does it create simplicity in that area of knowledge? In the
field of History, we look for the
causes of events using Reason in order to gain an explanation and an
understanding of those events. The event in its standing is the primary object
for our research. When we have gained the knowledge of what we believe to be
the “cause” of something, this also offers us with an explanation of “how” and its
impact.

 

In addition
to this, we can claim that accuracy and validity of knowledge are subjected to
change as time progresses due to the discovery of new artifacts that exposes
more truth of the past. One of the example that we can consider is when we read
a history book from the 1950s, related to start of the cold war. The book claims
that it is the fault of Soviet Russia, under the leadership of Stalin and refers
to Stalin’s takeover of Eastern Europe. However, in the 1960s, a different view
was considered, that the responsibility for the cold war was Washington and
that Stalin just acted defensively, after losing around 25 million people due
to the Second World War. This way of looking towards the Cold War was called
‘Revisionist’. By the 1980s and 1990s, the event was retold again with some
changes. Historians would point out that the Cold War turned into unavoidable,
given the ideological variations that remained between East and West, and its
far futile attempt to blame one country or even one person in particular. Did
the Cold War even start in 1945? Is it now not more correct to trace its
origins back to 1917? This school of thought and questioning was called with
the name of ‘Post Revisionism’.

 

The point
or fact depicted by this example is that retelling and accuracy of knowledge of
past events change constantly. With the discovery of more new evidence,
historians are able to create a better picture of the actual reason behind the
historical event. Considering the above example, after the collapse of the
Soviet Union in 1991, lot of materials, that was previously hidden in the
dreaded “Iron Curtain” was made available for the historians and they were able
to investigate and understand a lot regarding the cause of the cold war.

 

On the contrary note, the finding of new evidence does
not bring accuracy and simplicity but instead makes knowledge of history more
complex. For instance, the archived data may be hidden
by the Governments for decades, in order to conceal political misconducts or to
protect data essential for country’s security. When these documents are recovered,
they can reshape the historical view of an event. With the discovery of the ULTRA archives in the 1970s which was under 30 years of the
British rule, many Allied high command tactical decisions became re-evaluated,
specifically the conflict of the Atlantic. The disclosure of the information
also forced a re-defining of the history
of   electronic computer; hence
making it even more complex situation.

 

Hence to conclude, anything we state about the past is primarily
based on evidence found, and if we adopt different evidences, we will undoubtedly
arrive at a dissimilar adaptation of what likely occurred in the past.  In addition to this, historians should use a
whole lot of findings as possible, and the poof needs to be as varied and
widespread as possible, to avoid creating a biased image of the past. Though it
makes history even more complex but creates a detailed precise version of what
actually happened in the past.

 

Overall, I reckon the fact that the “Accuracy” of knowledge over the years is
explicitly seen in both areas of knowledge; History and Natural science.
Knowledge in natural science has substantiated through empirical methods. While
in History accuracy of knowledge has increased due to the discovery of more evidence.
Moreover, in the pursuit of accuracy in knowledge, we consciously look into
errors. These insights and learning from error hold deeper roots in our
memories. Nevertheless, recognizing and dealing with “errors” leads to the
process of inquiry and more experiments; that leads to the accuracy of the
knowledge. Thereby greater research leads to the development of accuracy and
reliability of the knowledge.

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